JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Paratroopers with the U.S. Army and Royal Thai Army conducted joint airborne operations onto Joint Base Lewis McChord’s Rogers Drop Zone, Feb. 15 and Feb. 18, 2022. The exercise prepares the partnered forces for a joint Strategic Airborne Operation in Thailand later this month.
The U.S. Army Pacific Command hosted 120 Paratroopers from the 31st Infantry Regiment, Thai Special Warfare Command, Thai Infantry Center, and Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy at JBLM from Feb. 11-23. They were joined by 115 Alaska-based Paratroopers from 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
“The overall mission is to share tactics, techniques, and procedures [with the Thai Paratroopers],” said Capt. Preston Wilson, Company B, 3-509th commander. “Basically, how we do business in our own unique environments.”
The joint operation enhances capabilities and improves operational readiness for both U.S. and Thai personnel. Additionally, the operation demonstrates the modernization of the Royal Thai Army’s air delivery operations by using heavy drop platforms for large equipment during the airborne drop.
Prior to the operation, all Paratroopers completed basic airborne refresher training, which included how to properly rig a T-11 parachute, fundamental procedures for operating inside the aircraft, and how to properly exit the aircraft during the airborne operation.
“We validate that all Paratroopers have met the [requirements] to safely and successfully execute the training jumps here at JBLM,” Wilson added. “This will prepare us for the Strategic Airborne Operation [or SAO], which consists of an ‘in-flight rig’ and jump into Thailand.”
The SAO is part of the Hanuman Guardian 2022 exercises between the Thai and U.S. armies. After the SAO, the next phase of Hanuman Guardian 2022 will see an airborne operation exercise at the Infantry Centre in Prachuap Khiri Khan and field training in Lop Buri from Feb. 25 to Mar. 8.
“The Thai soldiers are very disciplined and traditional, said Staff Sgt. Joseph Bragg, an infantryman assigned to Company B sharing his experience with the RTA Paratroopers “They are very respectable in the way that they show professionalism and courtesy,” he said.
Bragg also spoke of his new favorite word in the Thai language, as learned from the RTA Paratroopers. “‘Pi,’ which means ‘go,’” he said. “It is the last command given [by a Jumpmaster] before exiting an aircraft.”